Sunday, 18 January 2009

Bring back the old barn

So last night we went to see the Windsor Spitfires at their new palace - The WFCU Centre. A brand new $60 Million arena and entertainment centre. Our first visit to a game in this venue.

I was not impressed.

Yeah, the modern amenities are all there, new jumbotron, new digital effects, sound and lighting systems, better environmental controls (the old barn was notorious for fog forming on the ice surface), new concessions, new everything, including a liquor license. 


The new arena that seats 6,500 people was packed last night, and so were the concourses. You couldn't move. If anyone has seen George Orwell's 1984, you will remember the scene where Smith is trudging down a long hall in step with hundreds of other workers, sorrowfully shuffling along in a mournful procession to his meaningless job. I felt like I was suddenly thrown into that scene. Hundreds of fans shuffling along to the concession or washroom like a herd of cattle off to slaughter. 

The seats are ridiculously tight, in the old barn there were benches in the nosebleeds that you could spread out on, even put your coffee down next to you. (Nosebleed is a relative term, there was only 4,000 seats in there, all of them good unless you got stuck behind a support beam.

The new arena ushered in an era of new uniforms, new moral boosting graphics, music, and other gimmickery, such as the giant inflatable spitfire mouth that the team races out of onto the ice to the sounds of AC-DC's Thunderstruck. All cool, the crowd was pumped for their team. The barn could accommodate none of these theatrics. If anything, the team skating into the fog and every now and then you spotted a number and recognized the player to the sound of the rink announcer saying "hey! there's Ryan Ellis!"

The concessions are another story. We picked up some hot dogs, nachos, water, Iced tea and a large pretzel. I thought I was at the movies - $32.95. We could have eaten at Boston Pizza on the way in for less. Next time we east first.

The Spits took the night, 6 to 1 over the Barrie Colts. They're number one in the OHL right now, on fire for once. They haven't won the conference since 1988 and the past several years have been dismal. Maybe the excitement of the new place has opened their hearts and motivated them. It also doesn't hurt when you have a stacked team. One member has a gold medal from the World Junior Championship, one is the highest scorer in the OHL. Good talent and a new palace. Let's hope that excitement keeps up. I know that I have never seen a game so crowded as I did last night. I'm sure the other 6,000 people said the same thing as they headed out to their cars, ours was  a mere 15 minute walk away from the arena, in a snowstorm. (they must do something about the parking!)

The old barn is gone now, just a memory for Spitfires fans. It will still be used by the University of Windsor, as well as for minor league and fun leagues. But as far as a sports venue it's days are over. I will miss the old place and think of her every time I can't find a place to put my coffee down at the WFCU.


1 comment:

  1. The Metrodome for the Minnesota Twins and Vikings never has replaced, for me, the old Metropolitan Stadium, which had grass, no dome, and was a great place to freeze while watching the Vikings. The Mall of America now resides where the old stadium stood, although the mall has the old home plate, and the seat where a home run of 520 feet by Harmon Killebrew landed.

    Change is not always a good thing.


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